Writing in Rhyme

Please consider watching this slam live on Youtube (with subtitles):


I can’t help writing in rhyme. I do it all the time.

Rhymes sneak into my texts unbidden

Or if they’re not there, or are too well hidden

Their absence clangs like a bell

And I feel compelled to find them somewhere… bear, care, dare, hair, tear… repair, despair…

It’s not fair...

I rhyme almost against my will, I’d so like to possess more literary skill

To master assonance, or align alliteration

To write words that sing for themselves in impassioned poetic creations

That paint pictures for the ears and leave imprints like kisses on the soul.


Has English Language so defined my brain

I think in rhymes and words that sound the same?

As if Shakespeare’s ghost so haunts our linguistic pysche

We cannot escape de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dum, de-dee ?

Remember the rhyming books of childhood

A mouse took a stroll in the deep, dark wood.

Crafted tales to help children grow

Oh help ! Oh no! It’s a Gruffalo !

We use rhymes to teach sounds and literacy, phonetics and the ABC

We try to teach kids right from wrong using rhythm, rhyme and song

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise

Rhyme’s a nice device to show the ear and mind the way

But can verse be something more than sonic, phonic verbal play?

Somehow it doesn’t pass for literature of high class

And when the going gets tough and we face adult stuff

We’re supposed to put the rhymes aside.


Well, I tried. I really did.

When I had the need to write a poem about my mother’s death

I set out to avoid rhyming. I didn’t succeed.

Is it wrong to rhyme about death?

Does it trivialize so much pain to reduce it to a verbal game, like childhood nursery rhymes?

Well, kids deal with tough stuff too, sometimes.

My son had lost two grandparents by the time he was four.

He still asks “where’s Papi? Why don’t we see Nanny any more?”

He was in the house with me when my mother died.

I was giving him his breakfast when I should have been at her side.

Of course he wanted to know where she’d gone, and what was going on

I was advised not to euphemize,

Don’t say "she’s flown into the sky, she’s gone away"

As that leaves him to believe that she could come back some day.

And if that’s the worst he ever lives, he’ll be a lucky boy indeed:

If I were able to pray, I know that every day

I’d thank any relevant deity that we don’t live in a war zone

Where sending children across the sea

Is a safer option than staying at home.


And you know, lots of rhymes are written about war.

I studied the poets of the Great War in school English class

The power of their words had me weeping over my homework task

Alan Seeger had a Rendezvous with Death, and he wasn’t afraid

Neither to die, nor to let it rhyme with “breath”.

Wilfred Owen, in his "Anthem for Doomed Youth"

What passing bells for these who die as cattle?

He wrote to show the truth of the horrors faced by fighting men

Battling misplaced patriotism armed only with his pen.  

So death is part of life and as such should get the rhyming treatment.

Don’t stress about pentameters and such poetic feet

Just go with the flow and write what you know and tell us about what you feel

Who cares one jot if it rhymes or not – as long as we’re keeping it real.


WIth acknowledgements to Julia Donaldson, Alan Seeger and Wilfred Owen.

Quotations in this poem:

Julia Donaldson "The Gruffalo"

Alan Seeger "I have a rendez-vous with death"

Wilfred Owen "Anthem for Doomed Youth"


◄ Love that was washed away

Dog Lane ►


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Eric James

Tue 9th Oct 2018 08:03

A great salute to the art of rhyme! I enjoyed the many pleasant surprises along the way.

Big Sal

Thu 20th Sep 2018 00:12

I think the better the rhyme - the more powerful the emotion conveyed. Great summation Becky. Writing rhymes is definitely the way to go, as it requires a bit more thought than simply thinking of poetic quality words. I will watch the video in a bit.?

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Martin Elder

Wed 19th Sep 2018 22:15

Fabulous performance Becky. I know what you mean about trying to rhyme it seems to slip into my poems most of the time whether I like it or not.I think you have summed it all up. Its not about whether it rhymes or not it is indeed about keeping it real

beautiful poem

Nice one

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Wed 19th Sep 2018 22:15

A brilliant performance by Becky Who,
Transmitting rhyming techniques for us to do.
Up there on stage you definitely did shine,
Capturing our attention with every single line.
Well done.

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Taylor Crowshaw

Wed 19th Sep 2018 21:26

Hi Becky, you describe so well how it is to be a poet who rhymes. It is just the way it comes to us like an internal rhyming metronome. All emotion can be expressed in rhyme effectively. As you say when dealing with emotion the important thing is to keep it real. Thank you Becky well said..Taylor ?

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